Spreading terror

As we begin to notice the blossoming of almond trees on the island’s higher plains, wisterias are taking form on the sea fronts, and the traditional sight of flourishing olive groves seem to be taking their course too.

We may be delighted with this sight, as it also depicts the speedy passing of spring and the beginning of summer…Yet not so far away, in Italy’s southernmost Apulia region, a bacterium is spreading which has affected millions of olive trees.

Affected in probably a bleak description seeing as the virus hampers fluid movement in the trees, drying out their branches and leaves and eventually killing them.

Notably, the virus is spread through insects and, as the European Food Safety Authority has pointed out, the problem affecting Italy may soon spread to other EU nations, unless contamination procedures are implemented.

Certain words ring alarm bells: “If it expands its range further; the entire Mediterranean basin risks being contaminated.”

As we speak, there has been a call to ban all plant material imported from Italy and create a task force and implement preventative measures in case the bacterium is identified here.

This initiative was taken by locals who are involved in agriculture and fear that the wellbeing of the entire ecosystem of the island is at stake.

As we fear for our educational system being converted into an artless curriculum, as we still ponder about a dividing line which still spoils a united vision, or as we try to deal with the countless battles our contemporary society confronts us with, there is a dreamy notion of spring which is upon us that could be uprooted without us even realising it.

I hope authorities are on this, for from where I stand the only thing I can do is spread the word and brace myself.

*** Published in the Cyprus Weekly

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London